Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are a lot of little things I would take for granted, such as cities rife with boba shops and Safeways, tech workers that unleash their road rage two seconds after the light turns green and eerie shrouds of fog that seem to randomly make an appearance every morning. As much as I love California—for the good, the bad and the borderline ominous aspects about it—during my senior year of high school, I made the difficult decision to move cross-country for college. Although location wasn’t necessarily the most influential criterion that I examined, many of the inevitable consequences of moving far away definitely factored into my decision. If you’re thinking about attending a college far away from home, here are six pros and six cons worth considering.
Moving even ten minutes away from home can give you a newfound sense of independence, but this is especially true when you’re thrown into a completely unknown environment. If you attend a college far away from home, you probably won’t start off knowing a lot of, if any, people. As a result, you’ll be forced to make decisions for yourself and quickly become more independent.
Another great thing about immersing yourself in a new environment is that you’ll be exposed to different types of people. Many colleges emphasize diversity and make an effort to bring together a unique group of students, but chances are you’ll be much more likely to run into people from different backgrounds in a faraway location. If you enter college with an open mind and are ready to meet new people, you’ll benefit a lot from being in a diverse atmosphere.
3. You'll stand out
Going to a school very far away isn’t super common, and oftentimes you’ll stand out in a good way because of this. When meeting new people, your location back home can be an easy conversation starter since others will often be curious about why you chose to travel so far for school. Additionally, if you end up meeting people from the same place as you, you’ll instantly have common ground with each other. It can be a nice way to make a new friendship.
4. Job Opportunities
A major thing you’ll want to assess in terms of your school’s location is the job opportunities in the surrounding area, so picking a school with more opportunities—even if it’s farther away—could be a great career move for the future. This may not apply to you as much if you plan on going to graduate school, but if you’re interested in finding work in a specific field, certain locations may have better employment prospects. For example, an engineering major will probably have more luck in Silicon Valley while a performing arts major might be better off in Los Angeles.
Even if you end up staying on campus most of the time, going to college in an unfamiliar place can still make college life a little more exciting. At the very least, you’ll be guaranteed to have a different experience than high school and won’t be staying in the same bubble as you were before. Also, in some cases, even if your school is in the same country, you may feel like you’re studying abroad; simply by living somewhere far away from home, your desire to travel could be satisfied!
6. Unique Friendships
Although you’ll certainly have opportunities to make new friends at any college, going someplace where you’ll be surrounded by strangers will push you to branch out way more than if you stay close to home. You’ll have a fresh start and will have the chance to socialize with people that could end up being lifelong friends.
1. An Unfamiliar Environment
Going to school far from home can undoubtedly be a nice way to step outside of your comfort zone, but on the flip side, you’ll also need to adapt to various attributes that are likely to differ in a new location. Aside from surface level things like the climate and fashion trends, you also may find that there are cultural differences you’ll need to be aware of. For instance, opinions or mannerisms that may seem completely innocuous back home could be controversial elsewhere, so you’ll want to be sensitive and aware of this during your interactions.
2. Separation From Family
While it’s natural to not be as in touch with your family during college simply due to how busy schooling gets, being physically separated can also make it harder to stay close with them. Nowadays, technology makes it significantly easier to communicate from afar, but being physically separated could present other obstacles because you may not be able to travel home during breaks and probably won’t be able to visit over the weekend.
3. Transportation Issues
Choosing a faraway school also means you’ll need to account for transportation for yourself and your belongings which, aside from being a bit of a hassle to organize, will be an extra expense you may need to consider. If you go to school somewhere nearby, you won’t have to worry about stuff like plane tickets and airport accommodations that you’d otherwise need to evaluate ahead of time.
4. Potentially Higher Tuition
If you’re looking at an out-of-state public school, you’re probably already aware that out-of-state tuition is way higher. However, there are also cases where scholarships are offered to students that come from the same state as the college, so in these situations, you might also be excluded from opportunities that would lower the price of your tuition.
5. Lack of Storage
Since you probably won’t be able to bring everything home at the end of the year, something else you’ll need to account for with a faraway school is where you’ll store your stuff over summer break. You may need to either get rid of your stuff and purchase items all over again for the next semester or rent a storage locker. In any case, this is a challenge you’ll eventually need to address.
6. Extra Planning
The last drawback you’ll want to think about when choosing a college far from home is the extra planning it entails. You’ll need to book flights early, figure out how to ship things and prepare for any inconveniences that may result from traveling. This could end up being a valuable learning experience, but it will possibly require you to take on extra stress.
All in all, there are numerous pros and cons of a college's location to analyze when making your college decision. Choosing a school over 2,000 miles away certainly didn’t happen overnight for me and although it may not be for everyone, I can definitely say that I’m happy with my decision. So, if you’re in the process of selecting a college right now, congratulations! You’ve worked hard to get here and you’ll end up wherever you’re supposed to be.
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